Italian energy incumbent Enel is to explore opportunities in Slovakia and Russia to expand its business as opportunities shrink in its domestic market.

According to CEO Fulvio Conti, Enel has a war chest of E15 billion available for international acquisitions, with Russia high on the agenda. The Italian energy outfit has its eye on tenders to run regional Russian power plants which become available before end-of 2006. Mr Conti added that his company could invest up to E200 million in Russia’s energy sector by 2012.

Ironically, it is the liberalization of Russia’s state-owned power company RAO United Energy Systems that is offer the opportunity for Enel to expand its scope of business eastwards, while it is the Italian government’s imposition of liberalization on Enel that is forcing it to look for opportunities abroad.

Meanwhile, Slovakia also appears to be a major expansion target for Enel. The Italian company has agreed to purchase 66% of dominant domestic utility Slovenske Elektrarne and has its eye on other energy assets in the eastern European country.